bus-stop-sign
bus stop

Following the article on Cove Rangers and the new stadium, a good question appeared in the comments. ‘Just how many buses will be required?’

Let’s presume the same people are going to the new stadium. Let’s say a game against Hearts, Saturday 3pm. Fifteen thousand Aberdeen supporters. How many of those would not have their own transport, and would need to get back to Union Street, either to get to where they live in the city, or get to the train/bus station, or to begin Saturday night. How many might that be of the 15000 Aberdeen supporters?

Might it be 3000? I’d say that’s a conservative guess. It may well be more than double that.

How many people can you get in a double decker bus? I did a bit of Googling, and let’s say 100 people. That’s going to be one very uncomfortable journey for all concerned, but transport is transport, and a handy number for arithmetic.

That would be 30 buses needed immediately after a game, to move that section of the support quickly and efficiently. Are 30 buses going to be waiting outside the stadium after the game? Or more likely in my opinion, ten buses, planning to make three journeys shuttling the support back. How long after the final whistle will that third journey begin?

Google puts a car journey between Westhill and Union street at about 17 minutes. So enough time after the full time whistle to get to the buses, the first shuttle buses leave at 5pm. Let’s presume, rather optimistically, this bus doesn’t stop between the stadium and Union Street. Call it 20 minutes. A 5 minute turnaround, twenty more minutes, back to the stadium. Fifteen minutes to fill up that bus, 6pm the second shuttle buses leave, 75 minutes after the full time whistle. Same journey, back they come for the third shuttle journey. Leaving Kingswells at 7pm arriving on Union Street at 7.20pm. After you’ve waited in line (or you’ll lose your place) for how long after the match?

Now take all those figures, drop them into a midweek twenty thousand capacity game finishing at 9.15pm, in the dark, below freezing, and someone underestimated the crowd. How many buses will be there?

They gonna go back to the shiny new stadium? Would you ever run that risk again? As I said here, this element of the support is being thrown away, under the bus. A new stadium will have shiny new object syndrome for a bit, geographically it will be easier for others to get there, and get out. But the solid block from the city will be difficult to replicate. As will their loyalty. One nasty downturn in league form, a poor managerial choice, those new supporters going to hang around?

Only a fool would trust a multi-millionaire. There is a reason these people got so wealthy.

Part one here: Cove Rangers and the end of being a one city team

Part three: Questioning the narrative.

I am of mixed North Eastness. I am an Aberdonian by birth, but also grew up in Huntly and Buckie, and watched a fair bit of Highland League football as well as visits to Pittodrie as a kid.

This far from unusual geographic background gives me a loyalty to the Dons, and to the Highland League, and gives me a pathological loathing of Cove Rangers that is possibly a little irrational.

When Cove applied to The Highland League I so hoped they wouldn’t get accepted. A team from Aberdeen wasn’t what The Highland League was about. They were clearly only going to use it as a stepping stone.

And here we are all those years later, Cove appear to be about to join the league. Just as Aberdeen are about to move their stadium. More than twice the distance that Cove’s stadium will be from Aberdeen city centre.

I came up with the slogan One City, One Team… Not that it matters, but if you look at the Facebook timeline of The Dandy Dons it appears about four years ago. One city, one team, two European Trophies. Just me arsing around.

But the one city, one team concept is incredibly important. Particularly when you see how Dundee is divided with their two teams. And here we have Cove Rangers, what began just a few years after Gothenburg (as a serious concern), a football team created specifically to tap into the Aberdeen support, and coming to fruition just as the decades of mismanagement of Aberdeen FC are coming home to roost.

A swift search on Google Maps has a walk from Cove’s stadium to Union Street, at 56 minutes. And there are pubs on the route. It’s not going to games that is an issue. People arrive at staggered times. It’s leaving stadiums that needs to happen quickly and efficiently, where it may be very cold, and very wet.

Stand at the corner of King Street and Merkland Road after a game at Pittodrie and watch the crowd dissipate into the city after a match. Follow the crowd up to Union Street. Watch it thinning out bit by bit, until you get to Union Street and it merges into the city, into Union street, with all the bus stops, close to a train and bus station and disappears as if by magic.

Now at Kingsford there will not be enough buses waiting at the new stadium to transfer the city based crowd to Union Street. (or those who need to get to the train or bus station). There will be panic, there will be considerable numbers leaving the match early to get on those first buses, there will be considerable numbers waiting for the buses to return for the next journey, or the one after. As the bus company needs to make money. It needs to have fewer drivers and buses ferrying people over a long period of time. A whole shift. And you can’t leave the queues as you’ll lose your place, and you can’t start the journey walking as it’s too far. You will only be overtaken by full buses.

Aberdeen FC are throwing a considerable section of the Aberdeen based support, under the bus.

Landlocked

“Pittodrie is landlocked”. Strange because when we were moving twenty years ago to Loirston, we were not landlocked. We were moving, much like St Mirren, St Johnstone and a number of English teams at the time, as our city centre property, had such high value. To sell that land would generate enough money for new land, AND the stadium build. Or close to it.

Well that changed. Pittodrie is worth less than twenty years ago. And may still be falling in value. Retail is dying, city centres no longer highly sought property areas. So they needed a new reason why Aberdeen FC had to move. And landlocked was, hmm, not sure what word to use here. When did you first hear the phrase ‘landlocked’ out of Pittodrie? Try Googling to see when that phrase first came out of Pittodrie.

The falling value of Pittodrie also means the land around Pittodrie is falling in value. To purchase the land wouldn’t be expensive. Who wouldn’t AberDNA a Pittodrie rebuild stand by stand over a number of years. Because all property becomes available again eventually.

It’s as if some people watched Aberdeen V Real Madrid in 1983, and thought, how do I royally fuck that up.

A fascinating article here from 442 magazine on football clubs moving stadium. https://www.fourfourtwo.com/features/how-build-new-stadium-those-who-have

Part 2: Parking the bus – The new stadium, how many, how long a wait?

Part 3: Questioning the narrative

Old Firm colt teams to be allowed to start in the SPFL.

Extra income, extra publicity, extra ‘golden fixtures’ The Old Firm derby 2, the sequel. 8 page Daily Record specials, boasts of ‘colt’ teams getting higher attendances than Premier League teams. An expansion of the franchise. Profits, profits, profits. Religious division. Anti football, anti sport, anti Scottish, anti society.

Scottish football: go right ahead.

Ah but football. It’s all about football. These players in our over inflated squads, being paid over inflated wages need a game. A competitive game. Because our squads are uncompetitive, because our philosophy of greed, greed, greed, means we must purchase all the talent around us. Now we demand the game is changed for us to maximise our already enormous income so we can always dominate. A fixed market. Neoliberalism.

No problem then. All proceeds from these games, to be re-distributed to grass roots football. ALL proceeds.

‘Hello league of Ireland. We have two colt teams looking for a league…’

‘We’ll only play away from home’, ‘we’re only doing it for football’. ‘The Scottish media are responsible enough not to allow them to get all the publicity…’

They will say anything to get it started. Stealthily moving the goalposts as it suits them.

Since when has football ever been of interest to either of the Old Firm.

*Old Firm – it does exist. If you accept there are three teams in it. One of them dead.

alex smith northern light

A look at the Alex Smith years, and The Northern Light fanzine.

In life you should learn from your mistakes. If possible, learn from other people’s mistakes. We are currently in the joyful position of watching others, make the same mistakes we made.

Years of watching Sir Alex Ferguson led to years of watching Man Utd. Now we get to see Man Utd post Ferguson.

One of the mistakes Aberdeen FC made repeatedly during the decades of trying to find a football manager was making a decision based on the previous football managerial appointment.

Alex Miller was probably the first of these reactionary decisions. We’d just gone through Willie Miller and Roy Aitken (young inexperienced managers) and that didn’t work, ‘we needed an older, experienced manager’. Hello Alex Miller. Anyone who saw his Hibs team (he was sacked after Hibs supporters campaigned to have him removed) knew it was not just a mistake, it was a shocking decision.

Now we’ll have a foreign manager. After that, now we’ll have a Scottish manager (they were literally announcing this stuff before finding a candidate). Followed by any old crap in desperation, usually from Motherwell, until finally, and definitely not sheer blind luck, definitely not, Aberdeen got a managerial decision correct. (I’m sure we’ll be getting them all right in future, now they’ve got the hang of it, that’s how these things work).

So Man Utd, on the back of internationally renowned, experienced managers Mourinho and Van Gaal not working, what went through someone’s head at Old Trafford. ‘We need a young manager, with Utd in his blood’. The exact opposite of an older experienced outsider manager. Reacting to what was perceived to be wrong before. A reactionary decision.

As opposed to, say, the best person available.

And then there’s the assistant. We know the manager’s not good enough, so we’ll bring in an experienced, big name assistant manager. As everyone knows a not quite good enough manager, with a great assistant, adds up to a brilliant managerial team. Sadly they didn’t announce Solskjær and Phelan as co-managers. Then we’d really be through the looking glass.

A reminder of the series of ‘geniuses’ who were Ferguson’s assistants down the years. Brian Kidd, Steve McClaren, Carlos Queiroz (twice), Archie Knox, and Mike Phelan. All of them praised to the skies while at Utd. It was regularly implied not only were these people crucial to Ferguson’s success, it may all have been down to them.

Weirdly when they left for jobs to do their own thing, the magic seldom, almost never, went with them, yet even more weirdly, pretty much always, stayed with Sir Alex. Funny that.

The ‘highly rated assistant’ is a bit like a recommendation on Linkedin. Worthless.

When Alex Ferguson got the Man Utd job, he’d won the Cup Winners Cup and Super Cup with Aberdeen. He was nearly sacked in the beginning at Utd, but if a manager has done something special, something exceptional, they deserve a little more time. It wasn’t that brave a decision to have kept him in the job.

Solskjær did well at Molde in Norway, and failed badly at Cardiff. One of the world’s wealthiest clubs taking a hell of a risk. I don’t bet, but if I did, I’d be looking at the odds on Solskjær being sacked before Xmas.

And for Aberdeen, when McInnes goes. Do they already have their eyes on possible replacements? They should always be ready, and they should always have back ups, and they should always be updating their monitoring of prospective managers. It’s literally the only job they need to get right.

game day aberdeen

A look at Game day. The rituals and details that make it special.

mcinnes heart

On the sixth anniversary of Derek McInnes arrival at Aberdeen FC.

dandy af
The original Dandy AF

With Ole Gunnar Solskjar getting the Utd job and McLeish floundering at Scotland, I found the years of observing and trying to understand the genius of Alex Ferguson back in my head. He appears to be back at United, and inspiring and teaching as he always did.

Ferguson has said he encouraged his players to become students of the game, so a future in football after their playing career ended was possible. There has always been a lot of former Ferguson players in football management, and the phrase ‘student of the game’ comes up regularly in various players’ autobiographies.

I remember a very revealing comment from Willie Miller (as pundit) when Ally McCoist was venturing into football management few years back. Wullie subtly interjecting with a note of surprise ‘he was never a student of the game when we were players together’.

Ferguson instilled into his players self belief. If you believe you are as good as, or better than Real Madrid, you will have a far better chance of beating them. And anyone else in front of you. It’s not blind belief. He got the maximum out of everyone, ensured everyone knew their jobs, the unit was set up to win. There were ball carrieres to get the ball to the creatives. Finishers in the box, and the best penalty box defender in Europe sweeping up…

But what does that belief make you when you are no longer a player? It can lead to over confidence and a delusional belief in your own ability.

The prime example Gary Neville at Valencia. I have never managed before. I will bring my brother as my assistant. I do not speak Spanish. Spain will learn Gary Neville. Because I believe I will make it work, it will work.

A very important lesson in life, those that are successful are seldom the most talented or deserving, it’s the ones who want it most, believe they are the best, irrespective of ability. Because unlike football, where Neville was quickly found out, most places of work are not a meritocracy.

And Ole Gunnar Solskjær? This time next year, sacked or on the verge of it. Unless Sir Alex is doing a bit more than is being let on. And spare a thought for all those former players of Ferguson who must be sick with jealousy that they didn’t land the Utd job. Neville, Giggs, Scholes, Beckham, McClair, Strachan, McGhee… because their self-belief tells them ‘they could have done a job’. And who put that belief into them?

El shop

alex mcleish aberdeen training

A shy, anxious young art student wrote to then manager Ian Porterfield for permission to photograph the players in training for an illustration project…

I appear to be looking down upon God here…
Despite borrowing a zoom lens for the occasion, I used it to stay further away from them as I was very shy and uncomfortable in their presence, so they are not as sharp as they should be.
charlie nicholas aberdeen training
Charlie
willie miller aberdeen training
The coolest man in the world.
aberdeen fc training
Wullie none too impressed with the anxious looking art student in the torn denim jacket, desperately trying to hide behind the camera. Tom Jones, Paul Wright, Peter Nicholas, I think Ian Robertson, Willie Miller, Alex McLeish.
john hewitt aberdeen
Aye is it.

When I got back to art college with the photos, I thought they were terrible. Looking at a few of them now, a couple were okay with a little Photoshop cropping, all I needed to have done was go back the next day, and I’d have gotten them so much better.

Youth, like an education at Gray’s School of Art, is wasted on the young…

And that illustration project? Here it is.

Graeme Shinnie

As we’ve known for a while, Graeme Shinnie is off. If there is one thing that exemplifies Graeme Shinnie, it’s in his last game for Aberdeen a very important game v Kilmarnock, he picked up an injury. With all our subs used, despite not having a contract for next season, with literally millions at stake for his own career, he stayed on the park (risking further injury) to ensure Aberdeen got the three points.

One can only guess from body language, but after the game McInnes appeared to approach Shinnie to acknowledge what he’d done. Shinnie just shrugged it off. Little or nothing said about what he’d done after the game.

Like his serious health condition. Almost never mentioned. Never ever used as an excuse. Shinnie was a captain, a real Aberdeen captain.

Here’s hoping we see him again in the red of Aberdeen.

Acknowledgements to Scott Baxter, Stephen Dobson, SNS Group.


dandy art

The Dandy Dons shop is open. Lots of posters, lots of t-shirts. I just thought I’d explain a bit about what I was doing for some of it, and a bit about me and my art.

I have an Afc art history, a heritage as it were. Cartoonist on The Northern Light fanzine, The P&J (mainly the back page), The Absolute Game fanzine, When Saturday Comes, and the pinnacle, the ultimate, doing some illustrations for Aberdeen FC themselves back when Ebbe was manager.

Quite the fitba CV. Which completely makes up for the lack of earnings during those jobs.

So while the Facebook page and the blog are now approaching four years old in their current format, and thousands of memes and illustrations have been published during that time, I thought I’d do something more substantial. Something artistic to express my thanks to the club and the city of my birth.

I also wanted to empty my head of all the ideas that were rattling around in my head, some of which had been there for years.

‘One city, one team, two European trophies’ has been in my head for decades. Adding a lobster to it, because, well there are reasons, is quite new.

Bottles and food (still life) appear in a few of the illustrations, as they often do in other aspects of my art. The son of a chef, a hotel manager and publican, I grew up in that industry.

The Dandy logo

The Dandy logo. The essence of Dandy. It’s an extreme simplification of the official Aberdeen FC, Donald Addison designed logo. A laughing face. The mouth represents where the 1903 sits in the official logo.

There’s a small nod in the symbol to acid house. Aberdeen supporters eh, stuck in the eighties. Needing drugs in the nineties for the Roy Aitken, Alex Miller years.

I only discovered Donald Addison had designed the official Afc logo from Wikipedia recently. He taught me during my brief spell at Gray’s School of Art, and I lived next door to him for years. If he’s still with us, all the best there Don.

More designs will follow. Visit the shop here.

shay logan

To celebrate Shay Logan being, Shay Logan, here’s the memes and illustrations of The Dandy Dons on Shay down the years.

The fox in the box. Which if I remember rightly from Red TV, Dave and Andrew said it’s a nickname he gave himself!! You’ve got to love someone who gives themself a nickname!

The Shay man. Move any mountain. The band, the song. Interesting fact (to absolutely no-one) in my first full time job, I worked with a member of The Shamen, Allison. Albeit she wasn’t in the band when they got famous. But she’s on their Wikipedia page. Still counts.

The shop is open

Didn’t think it possible, but the last few weeks the Glasgow media have reached a new low in their coverage of Scottish football. And this isn’t just the tabloids, not just the usual suspects. BBC Glasgow, on your licence fee.

Brendan leaves Celtic. A very successful manager, a very skilled manager, he left as, well it was time. It is sad for supporters when a player or manager moves on to better things, but it happens. You get sad and or angry about it for a day or two, you pick yourself up, and get on with it. The king is dead, long live the king.

Not if you support The Rangers or Celtic. You get nursed through the whole sad/angry experience by a succulent lamb media, as they offer twenty four hour psychological care. As if the prospect of dealing with the reality that their teams, aint all that, is simply something these emotional wrecks couldn’t deal with.

Attack after attack after attack on Brendan Rodgers. “How could he leave when he could have been a hero?”

Two things; he singularly shoots ‘the treble treble’ in the back of the head at very close range, as if it is any sort of an achievement. It’s not, whatever the media say, it’s a perfect example of how ridiculously skewed Scottish football is financially. A small reminder, Celtic with all that money, all those resources, will be playing Aberdeen, from the North East of Scotland, at ‘neutral’ Hampden soon, which is in Glasgow. Because it’s just not fixed enough for them in advance already. We will be sneered at, and belittled for not taking enough supporters.

Secondly, in the absence of any actual journalism in Scotland, why did Brendan leave when he left?

Anyone remember when McInnes arrived at Aberdeen? Lovely man that he is, I’d doubt very much Craig Brown wanted to retire five games before the end of the season. McInnes wanted in early so he could coach the players. Find out what their personalities were like. Who was open to learning, and following his instructions, and who wasn’t. So he knew what to bring in in the summer. That first full season we got off to a flyer. That momentum helped transform our club from the mess it had been in for years to now generating probably more than double it’s previous turnover. But nowhere in the Scottish media is the fact these two, reputed to be friends, have done exactly the same thing when starting a job.

Then there is the recent defeats of The Rangers by Aberdeen. I’d be surprised if there is anywhere outside of a dictatorship where a far smaller team, with regard to resources (though crucially not history or European trophies), would get such reluctant praise for beating a team with the budget of The Rangers. The media narrative all over the world of the giant killer, the underdog being a great story. Not in Scotland.

Just pumping out the laughable whataboutery of investigating Aberdeen supporters for sectarian chanting, and allowing the narrative of appealing Morelos yellow card (the narrative is ‘they were cheated’) just diversion and dishonesty all over your licence fee funded BBC.

Only a few weeks ago, Steve Clarke had a public melt down at his treatment from supporters of The Rangers. He went into great detail as to how shameful it was, how embarrassing it was for Scotland and how glad he was he’d left Scotland when Chelsea signed him when he was young. That was exactly when the media ought to have gone into overdrive into this cancer in Scottish football and Scottish society.

Instead the media have been very deliberately trying to tar every Scottish club. Everyone is a problem. A diversion. The establishment working together. The Record, Scottish Sun, Sky, BBC all ‘coincidently’ doing exactly what Traynor wants them to do.

I’d put money on Steve Clarke going back to England in the summer.

The shop is on fire.

pamela anderson

There’s a lot of different opinions at the moment on the last transfer window. And assorted opinions on AberdDNA. As almost every blog article on here has to begin, different opinions are great, it’s what makes fitba magic, and why should we all be in agreement with each other. We’re all different. As I write that I hear Graham Chapman’s voice in Life of Brian.

The club has X amount of money, the club can spend Y amount without going into debt. We want what’s best for the club, pretty sure most of us believe those in charge of the club largely want the same. I don’t think anyone thinks anyone at the club has their hand in the till.

But AberDNA is different. The call went out, we can directly help the team. So we do have a need and right to know where the money has gone. Again everyone is different, plenty have said on Twitter, ‘I gave the money to the club, to use as they see fit’. Perfectly good attitude. There are others that are not happy. Two ‘disappointing’ transfer windows, has them questioning where the money is being spent?

The DNA money is a drop in the ocean to a sizable element of our support. To others, the backing of the Dons, through match tickets, to travelling to away games, to paying into DNA, it’s everything. It could on occasion be money that really ought to be paying for a holiday, or an electric bill. Football does that. And remember when we are all being grateful to a couple of multi-millionaire directors for throwing a few shillings at a problem, every single paying supporter at Pittodrie has paid in a higher percentage of their disposable income than any director.

Bananas

So the money thing. What’s been spent and where. And we are doing it in bananas.

The club prior to McInnes’s arrival was pretty much dead in the water having been mismanaged for decades. Along came Derek McInnes in his Baywatch dookers and pulled us out of the water, before 1990’s Pamela Anderson gave us a long slow kiss of life on the beach…

Under Craig Brown the support had fallen to record low levels, a crowd of a little over 5000 started to become normal. Not really Brown’s fault, years of mismanagement had broken a lot of people.

Let’s say Craig Brown’s budget was 30 bananas per season for the football operation. Covering everything, player/manager/coaches/physios salaries, transfer fund, the reserve team, youth, scouting, biscuits in the manager’s office, everything football. 30 bananas.

McInnes comes in, he too gets a 30 bananas budget. The team improves, we get to semi-finals and finals regularly, people come back to Pittodrie, the average crowds get to more like 14,000 per game, sponsorship increases, merch sales increase, and clearly Pamela Anderson did the trick.

McInnes then would have a ‘conservative guess’ 50 bananas budget per season. Of which 20 bananas, his skill, talent and hard work are directly responsible for. So for anyone complaining about what they have heard his salary to be, it should probably be double whatever it is.

The 50 bananas budget allows McInnes to lift the club up a level or three. We picked up McLean for 200k, but more importantly there were new contracts for McGinn and Hayes, keeping them at the club, keeping them hungry, showing them there was direct financial rewards for them, and the other players. Very few left our club for a few years. Youth players are no longer being cherry picked by English clubs before they even make our first team. Also there may be more physios, football science people, higher catering budget, trips to Dubai (paid for by the sponsors, but because they want to be associated with a successful team). All down to McInnes.

Then along comes AberDNA. All profits, ya dee dah, the football operation. The set up costs will have been sizable in that first year, but also I’d imagine the most sign ups would also be in that year.

So let’s say AberDNA generated 10 bananas profit. And that 10 bananas went to McInnes for the football operation.

The big question is, and it needs to be asked, is did McInnes get 60 bananas to spend or not?

50 like the previous year’s budget, plus 10 DNA bananas?

Or did McInnes get 53 bananas to spend? 10 bananas from DNA plus 43 from the previous year’s budget, as seven bananas got redirected to Kingswells?

And while there are plenty who will have no problem with that, the problem is ‘all profits from AberDNA will be used exclusively to support the Football Operation, in an effort to level the playing field with our closest rivals.’ doesn’t mention previous year’s budget. And if that is deliberately missing, then sorry fellas, that’s not good enough.

I don’t know the answer. But if McInnes’s budget is 60 bananas, and I genuinely believe it might be, then it needs to be communicated.

And it’s for the people who maybe don’t have enough for an electric bill as they are putting into AberDNA I am asking.

I trust in McInnes, because I’m not a fucking idiot. I don’t trust multi-millionaires, for exactly the same reason.

Derek McInnes slept out all night to help the homeless. The man who builds houses wasn’t there.

The first two minutes of the video.